A Recovery Blog

This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

One Day At A Time

Arrived in Fort Myers 6:20 pm. Both our flights were delayed but we arrived on time in Florida. Our parents were dutifully waiting for us as we were heading towards the baggage claim. Normally I would be racing outside to have a smoke after eight hours without one in the smoke free airports, but this time I cleverly stuck on my arm a nicotene patch and so I wasn’t desperate to smoke. That was a pleasant change and hopefully it will be a permanent change in about two weeks when I start taking the Chantix pills. I’m gradually working my way towards quitting my sole addiction. Of course, as soon as we left the airport I took off the patch. And an hour later I was back to smoking again but at a much slower rate because I’m not allowed to smoke in my parents’ apartment (I wouldn’t do that anyway), so I have to smoke outside. It’s so good to be around my parents and to enter into their clean, well-organized, attractive apartment. Right now everyone is asleep. I will be sleeping for the next eight nights on the living room couch which I prefer to sharing my mother’s room which is too small for the both of us. Plus I like her to have her own space and the living room at night gives me some private time as well. I find I need the private time, not because my family is unpleasant to be around, far from it but because I am in many ways an introvert. Schizophrenia has just accentuated my natural bent towards solitude. Still to be around my family this way is a treat. Tonight I had the added pleasure of listening to my mother read some of her writing aloud to my brother and me. She read a couple of short book reviews, a piece on an aspect of her childhood and a piece about a trip to Cairo, all very well written and filled with precise detail. Some of her pieces have been published for the residents of their retirement community but those pieces are all necessarily short, but it’s her longer pieces that I responded to and the shame is they don’t have an audience. So I said to her she should start a blog. It would be perfect for her and if she gave her address out to people she would get the audience she deserves. I will show her my blog, not for her to read (I feel a bit shy about my family reading my blog) but to try to entice her to start one of her own.

Slept well last night. Woke up to the sound of my brother and mother talking around the dining room table. Soon after I woke up my mother lifted the shades from the windows and let the light shine in on all of her plants which look healthy and happy. She and my brother have the green thumbs in the family, so did my mother’s mother. Right now they are out looking at the plants outside, despite the heat and humidity. I, on the other hand, went out with my father and did a little shopping.

Friday evening -- It’s getting towards the end of the first day down here. We had an early lunch here at the retirement community. Then we went to see a movie The Bourne Ultimatum starring Matt Damon. It wasn’t a movie I particularly wanted to see but I was outnumbered so I keep quiet. I keep quiet a lot I’ve noticed. My brother gets more argumentative around my parents and I get more submissive. I’ve never been a brilliant talker and for a while there when I was most ill I barely talked at all to other people (though I talked a lot out loud to my voices when I thought I was alone) but I used to be able to hold my own in a conversation. Now I speak a bit here and there but I’ve lost a lot of confidence. I have this nagging lack of self esteem. But again, I have to count my blessings that I’m not really incapacitated. I could be in the torture as too many people still are. I could be catatonic. But no, I am in recovery. I may have misgivings but I am heading in the right direction.

I’m happy to report that my parents are doing well. My father turned 81 two weeks ago and my mother will turn 80 in March. I have to admit to myself that they are officially old now but they’re in good shape and don’t look their age. They are also in good spirits. May it last for a long time. The retirement community they live has, in addition to the regular apartments, an assisted living section and a nursing home and the hospital is very close by. About a year after I got sick they moved from a house on Sanibel Island to this community. That was eight years ago when they were in their early 70’s. They decided it was time to secure their future and they wanted to have access to both healthcare and community. Luckily they have not needed assistance but if they do they know they will be taken care of and that reassures me because I know I am in no condition to take care of anyone but myself at this point. Gradually they are coming to terms with mortality and illness. They’ve known people here who have died or who have become seriously ill but despite that they have made friends and have become useful. I’m sure they don’t like the idea of their own mortality but they are not running scared from it either. If I live to be as old as they are I hope I have their fortitude and courage.


Saturday -- My brother is a very knowledgeable, very smart individual, so are my parents but sometimes I find him overbearing. I feel uncomfortable when I get annoyed with him because I want so much to get along with him. In some ways, he wants to spar and I’m just not good at it. I’m not as quick, as knowledgeable, as practiced in the art of arguing as he is and he knows this. To be fair he doesn’t really thoroughly attack me, just a few quick jabs at my lack of a memory or my withdrawal from people but he doesn’t seem to really realize that I suffer from schizophrenia. I don’t feel comfortable pointing this out though I know that I should. But what can I say? I am not willful and lazy, I live with a disability. My brother may be in denial but I suffer from mental illness still and I need forebearance and help, not criticism. Or rather if criticism is necessary, may it be constructive, instead of just hurtful. I think my brother has a lot of verbal confidence which he learned at a very young age because he had trouble with reading and writing but in other ways he, too, lacks confidence. He has been encouraged to do a radio show at one or both of the colleges here but he’s never been on the air (though I hope that will change this year). He has been told that he should write but he doesn’t do that either. He should be writing in a blog of his own, as should my mother but I don’t know if they will actually take it up. I really should show them both the ropes of doing it soon. Maybe my encouragement will get them to do it. I would love that, love to read what they write on a regular basis. And I know I could learn from them precisely because they are so knowledgeable and intelligent.

I guess I’m just trying to adjust to all this family togetherness and though I love my family I need to be alone for part of the day. I think it has to do in part with the way I grew up, in a house where I had a room of my own but also it is the schizophrenia. Though I must say I am in much better shape than before. Before the voices were so loud and intrusive that I would be off in my own world and unable to pay attention to my surroundings. Now I can interact to a certain degree.

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